When I woke up on Tuesday, Feb. 1, I found myself scrolling through Instagram and seeing every other post celebrating Black History Month—from brands and organizations to politicians and friends in my feed. To say the least, I was unimpressed. We are in the midst of Black History Month, a time relegated for companies and politicians to appeal to the Black community and, if we are lucky, to also talk about issues facing Black folks. Don’t get me wrong—we should be uplifting the beauty and contributions of the Black community and the issues we are facing, but this needs to happen all year long. These issues are not bound to a specific time in the year. As I tried to understand why I was feeling incredibly cynical, I realized the reason: I am tired.
Every intersection of my identity is tired. I’m a Black woman veteran who dedicated eight years of her life to active duty service in the United States Air Force, from which I spent two years separated from my children. Despite my service to this nation, I am first a Black woman living in America.
As a Black American, I’m tired of the constant white-washing of our history, the suffering my people experienced and continue to endure. I am tired of the collective amnesia when it comes to the contributions of Black people in building this nation.
As a Black veteran, I’m tired of the perception in our society that veterans are monolithic, and that they do not look like me. That veterans are young, white and male is something that has been perpetuated throughout history. My service is not valued the same.
There is an erroneous belief in our country that we are a post-racial society because we won a civil war for the abolishment of slavery, witnessed a strong civil rights movement in the 60’s, and ended legal segregation in 1965. To push this belief, some people bring up the fact that we even had the first (and only) Black president in U.S. history in 2008. Yet just a little over a year ago, on Jan. 6, 2021, white supremacists stormed our Capitol building in an attack on our democracy because they could not accept the fact that their vision of a white supremacist nation was slipping through their fingers.
White supremacists stormed the Capitol building in an attack on our democracy because they could not accept the fact that their vision of a white supremacist nation was slipping through their fingers.
As a veteran who was, is, and will always be committed to serving my country and its people, I am tired of watching elected officials—who took a similar oath that I did—choose their own self-interest over their oath to the constitution, our people and our democracy.
As a Black mother, I’m damn tired.
I am tired of being constantly inundated with news reports of young Black men, the same age as my sons, losing their lives at the hands of police.
Earlier this month on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2022 at early hours of the morning, Minneapolis police killed Amir Locke in his sleep while serving a no-knock warrant—the same type of warrant that police used to kill Breonna Taylor in her sleep, and the same Minneapolis police that killed George Floyd in 2020 in front of all of our eyes. While many non-Black folks watched the video of Floyd taking his last breath on camera in disbelief, we watched knowing that this would not be the last time. It would not be the last time a Black life would be reduced to a hashtag.
We are tired.
Yet, despite being tired, we must keep going. We have to keep fighting. We have to keep organizing. Together we must continue to press forward, turning pain into purpose and purpose into power.